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Tilting at Windmills

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February 18, 2011

ROVE TO GOP BASE: IT'S A TRAP.... When a national poll was released this week, showing that a majority of Republican presidential primary voters are "birther" conspiracy theorists, it raised a few eyebrows. After all, this dumb, arguably racist, nonsense is supposed to be confined to the lunatic fringe. Public Policy Polling's data suggested more than half of the GOP's most reliable voters have gone mad.

Karl Rove has a theory to explain all of this: the White House set a trap.

"Within our party, we've got to be very careful about allowing these people who are the birthers and the 9/11-deniers to get too high a profile and say too much without setting the record straight," Rove said Wednesday night on Fox News.

"We need the leaders of our party to say, 'Look, stop falling into the trap of the White House and focus on the real issues,'" he said. [...]

Rove said he thinks that the Obama administration relishes the continued existence of the birther movement because it distracts from how the president is handling policy issues. "Look, these guys may be lousy at governing ... but they're damn good at politics," he said. "It fits into the White House theme line."

Hmm, damn good at politics, lousy at governing. That's funny, Karl, I was thinking the same thing about your failed White House.

In any case, Rove comes up with some pretty ridiculous ideas from time to time, but the notion that an unhinged, right-wing conspiracy theory, debunked several years ago and rejected by sane people everywhere, is an elaborate "trap" set by nefarious White House officials, is pretty remarkable.

In some ways this is nearly as twisted as the nonsensical theory itself. Indeed, Rove seems to envision a scheme with layers -- the White House has conspired to convince Republicans to see a conspiracy that doesn't exist. It looks like right-wing activists have been pushing this garbage for years -- enough to convince most GOP presidential primary voters -- but apparently this is all part of the Obama team's fiendish plan.

Remember, Karl Rove, who shared this idea on national television, is considered one of the Republican Party's most credible, strategic minds. It's quite a party.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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It is always all about projection with these people, and particularly with Rove.

Posted by: rea on February 18, 2011 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Teabaggers don't use the "N" word!
They just pick up what they hear.
And they hear Obama and Holder calling each other "n****r" all of the time!

Obama and Holder have to stop doing that for the good of our nation!
It makes us Teabaggers look like racists.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 18, 2011 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

It's the only way he can frame "shut up about it, your hurting the team" in a way that they will hear.

Posted by: snoey on February 18, 2011 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Rove in his own way is trying to get the birther people to shut up. If he told them they were wrong they would ignore him, but tell them it's a conspiracy by the White House and they will do anything to stop it.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 18, 2011 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Over at the TPM post on this story yesterday, someone said (I'm paraphrasing here), Well, if what Rove says is true, then why is it that other GOPers are refusing to say explicitly that there's no truth to the Birther stuff?

Good question.

Also, in his early days as a political operative in Texas, Rove had a reputation for spreading rumors about other candidates and making it look like the rumors originated with people not named Karl Rove. So, re Rea above: projection, indeed.

Posted by: John B. on February 18, 2011 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Rove said he thinks that the Obama administration relishes the continued existence of the birther movement because it distracts from how the president is handling policy issues.

Birtherism is only one symptom of the Republican base's collective mental illness. They fervently believe whatever stupid idea fits into their limited little worldview -- no matter easy those ideas are to debunk.

They have the same delusions about ACA -- "Obama has nationalized our health care system and has set up death panel that will decide when it's time to euthanize grandma!" And about the economy -- "Obama has raised our taxes and the stimulus didn't create a single job!" Actually, anything the Obama's do can become a subject of their delusions -- "Michelle Obama is going to force women to breastfeed at the point of a gun!"

But while the Republican base is arguably pretty stupid, Republican politicians aren't -- not all of them anyway. So the Democrats need to hit Republicans -- hard.

On the rare occasion "jounalists" deign to ask their opinion, Democrats need to say, "One of the most important questions of the 21st century is, are Republicans really so stupid that they believe such a thing or are they so dishonest that they'll say anything, no matter how false, to gain a political advantage. In other words, are Republicans liars or are they just stupid? And either way, why are you quoting them?"

Posted by: SteveT on February 18, 2011 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

You see, 50 years ago, a cabal of Kenyan socialists decided that they wanted to dominate the world, so they sent one of their own t university in the US, where they made sure he fell in love with an American, and they had a child. Then, the Kenyans conspired with the new "state" of Hawaii to plant a birth certificate and newspaper announcements for the birth of a kid who was really born in .. Mozambique, and then they moved to the US ... and then they father had and "accident" and his mother eventually had "cancer" and the child was raised with socialists indoctrination in various places, including a "country" called Indonesia which is really a front for the Soviets ...

And then, after getting everyone to believe he is a citizen, they got him elected to advance Kenyan socialistic ideals, and then, they played a double game on us, and are now conspriring with the liberal media to make it SEEM like we are crazy, and now Karl Rove agrees with them, meaning HE has been coopted and is PART of the plan .....

Don't you see, people?

Posted by: bigtuna on February 18, 2011 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

"the notion that an unhinged, right-wing conspiracy theory, debunked several years ago and rejected by sane people everywhere, is an elaborate "trap" set by nefarious White House officials, is pretty remarkable."


Our conspiracy theorists wacky ideas are an elaborate conspiracy theory! It's a Karl "Double Down" Rove classic. Take a legitimate criticism of your candidate (or Party) and throw it back on the opposition repeatedly and harder.

Posted by: Bob on February 18, 2011 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Rove's right. In fact, the trap was set by Obama's parents. They spent half of 1961 sowing doubt about where they would give birth - *knowing full well* their baby's future political opponents would get distracted by this issue. Then they stealthily gave birth in Hawaii, which counts as US soil on a technicality due to activist judges' rulings.

Posted by: Chris S. on February 18, 2011 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin echoed the same line, calling birtherism "distracting."

Note, however, that Rove and Palin aren't arguing against birtherism because it's false, but because it's "distracting" -- in other words, because it brings unfavorable media attention. Birtherism will continue to be alive and well as dog whistles among the many ways the Republicans suggest to their radical base that Obama is somehow illegitimate.

Posted by: Gregory on February 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

I see, I SEE!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 18, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

How does he sleep at night?

Posted by: JD on February 18, 2011 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Note the insertion of 9/11 deniers for no apparent reason -- unless it's a hint to GOP non-birthers to think of birthers as being in the same realm of craziness as they would put 9/11 deniers. When has anyone found a bunch of 9/11 deniers rising to prominence "Within our party [GOP]"?

Posted by: Bob G on February 18, 2011 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

As ususal, Karl Rove speaks the truth and I worship the ground that he walks on.

However, the true idol among republicans is Frank Luntz. Frank is the master. Focus groups are fantastic. Frank can take a lie and find the language to use to speak it so that everyone will get emotional and believe the lie!

That is real value to we republicans.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 18, 2011 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama.

President? Or Jedi Knight?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 18, 2011 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

C U N D or C U N T - whatever "handle" you are using today - please be more careful.

Any more unfortunate "typos" will result in deleting your comments and blocking your IP address.

Please don't be so disrespsectful and demeaning to women.

Posted by: mod on February 18, 2011 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

How does he sleep at night?
Posted by: JD on February 18, 2011 at 8:36 AM

sociopath |ˈsōsēōˌpaθ|
a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

Posted by: FRP on February 18, 2011 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Rove is a savant after all! His genius is only tempered by his shear pathology! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 18, 2011 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

What is interesting here is that Rove deems it necessary to make this argument. The Wurlitzer has been too effective on the birther thing and now it's time to talk the lunatic off the roof. Proposing a new conspiracy theory (birtherism is a WH plot) to defuse the original seems a good ploy--the original evil (Obama!) is still at the heart of the conspiracy.

It will be interesting to watch over the next several years is whether and how the reality-creating machinery on the right modulates to avoid just this sort of pitfall. Will they develop a mechanism to back out of these sorts of dead ends or will the alternate realities be fashioned in ways that are less prone to such dead ends? Or something else? This conspiracy within a conspiracy Rove is spinning seems interesting if not a little dangerous. Sort of like the old dream within a dream canard.

Will the right find itself in 10 years continually waking from one nightmare into another? I was living in a world where a Marxist Kenyan stole the 2008 election only to awake and discover an Islamofascist dictator is controlling my dreams.

Posted by: hoipolloi on February 18, 2011 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

I was struck by the inclusion of the "9/11 truthers" in this too. Usually the "truther" crowd is held up as the lefty conspiracy theory by the "both sides do it" pundits (Matt Taibbi, I'm looking at you) even though I have never met a liberal "truther", mostly libertarian, anti-government types.

Posted by: Th on February 18, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Real mods,
Looks like "mod" is back again.

If I told him/her to 'Go Cheney yourself!", would that be rude?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 18, 2011 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

you need the leaders of your party to call b.s. on the birther nonsense?
which leaders would those be, karl? boehner? cantor? bachmann? limbaugh? beck?

Posted by: mellowjohn on February 18, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

gulag: since this thread is about conspiracies, any theory as to why the many-personalitied troll seems to have a special animosity toward you? He/she/it writes posts under a crude parody of your handle, then writes other posts criticizing "you" for writing them. It's kind of creepy.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

hells littlest angel,

Yeah, it's creepy.

But that's the way gutless cowards roll.

They don't have the intelligence to argue, or the courage, so they do crap like this.
Trolls will be trolls, and that's why they're called a troll and not a hero.

But, I'm a big boy, both physically and mentally, so I can take it.
I wouldn't mind meeting 'mod' in a dark alley, though. But something tells me, he/she/it would run. See gutless, above!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 18, 2011 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Projection has been Rove's standard operating procedure as least as long as he's been in the national spotlight. Over and over and OVER and OVER he's been doing this. Which would be annoying and repellent enough on its own, but even worse because he's taught the rethug legions to instinctively do it as well. (Though Rush deserves some credit too.)

Rove would be a laughing stock by now in the mediasphere of any sane universe.

Posted by: jTh on February 18, 2011 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Rove is struggling to maintain a role in the Republican Party, and this is just another of his efforts to straddle the divide. On the one hand, Rove is the voice of the Republican establishment, seeking to increase the GOP's power; remember that he was the architect of the Bush Administration's "big tent" program--the Medicare drug benefit, comprehensive immigration reform, and the politicization of 9/11.

On the other hand, he's trying to appeal to the newly-radicalized Tea Party right wing, which deeply distrusts him.

His public disavowal of the birther movement is Rove's way of re-asserting himself as a realist with the remaining sane part of the Party. However, he does this by turning it into an attack on Obama; if this doesn't endear him to the Tea Party element, at least it softens any negative reaction he might get from the hard-liners.

As is generally the case with Rove, it's always about him. Impossible to say whether this guy has any genuine beliefs.

Posted by: DRF on February 18, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Any quoted statement of Karl Rove's should begin with a polite warning: "The fictional spin point Karl Rove is spreading this week is . . ." Nothing he says has to have any connection to reality. Nothing he says is any more real than a stage actor claiming to be the Prince of Denmark or John Wayne claiming to be a cowboy or war hero. It's just the narrative of the day.

Regardless, you can feel his frustration. If the Republicans had actually followed his game plane, they'd have their permanent conservative majority and effective control of the national media. But Karl didn't allow for his plans for a corporate conservative oligarchy attracting so many fools, losers, crooks, and crackpots. It keeps falling apart on him, because you cannot build a majority out of rational sociopaths like Karl. There aren't enough of him, thank goodness, and he has to depend on Tea Partiers and dim bulbs like Kasich, DeMint, and Boehner to run his revolution. They aren't up to it.

Posted by: Midland on February 18, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

When Rove becomes a moderate voice in a political party you now its almost time to hit the lights and close the door. Remember the anti-Goldwater slogan of 1964: "In your guts you know he's nuts"? Stand aside and let the crazies take them over the falls once again.

Posted by: max on February 18, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Further proof that you only find the "good Republicans" in the graveyard.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 18, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

George Soros is having a big laugh right now with Van Johnson and the board of the Tides Foundation. These clowns aren't even close to figuring out the conspiracy inside a conspiracy wrapped in a conspiracy.

Posted by: LoveHate on February 18, 2011 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

As most casual observers of Karl Rove have seen, the great Republican strategist lies all the time. And his comments often seem designed to manipulate people. I don't have a psychological diagnosis. He might lie because he feels compelled to tell lies or he might lie just because he thinks it is an effective tool, however I don't think we can safely conclude that he has gone off the deep end. He might be rationally trying to mislead many Republicans into not believing the birther conspiracy. And he might be right that crazy conservative conspiracy theories damage the electoral viability of the Republican Party.

Posted by: Lochinbrae on February 18, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

JD: How does he sleep at night?

What do you mean, "at night"? I thought it was common knowledge that Rove sleeps during the day, in a box filled with his native earth.

Posted by: Chet on February 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I really can't tell with Karl Rove. Is it unconscious projection where he's honestly blind to the irony, or is it deeply pathological cynicism? Everyone thinks he's a genius. I don't.

Posted by: Paul in NC on February 18, 2011 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK



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